Delaware Dems Claim Intimidation by O'Donnell Backers, GOP Camp Says Coons 'Panicking'

The Delaware Democratic Party claimed Tuesday that Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell's supporters were rallying outside polling places and creating a disturbance that amounted to illegal "voter intimidation" -- a charge the O'Donnell camp firmly denied.

"They're clearly panicking. There's no evidence of that," O'Donnell campaign manager Matt Moran told

The state Democratic Party first leveled the charge in a brief written statement Tuesday afternoon.

"There have been some reports of voter intimidation from the O'Donnell campaign or her supporters throughout the state. This activity is illegal and contrary to our rule of civility in Delaware," the party said.

Asked for clarification, party spokeswoman Katie Ellis said voters had called their hotline to complain that groups of 15-20 people were rallying and chanting outside polling places before O'Donnell arrived. Voters reported feeling uncomfortable and, in some cases, being unable to access the polling site, she said.

"They're doing it right in the entranceway and they're being extremely loud," she said.

Ellis said some voters could hear the chanting inside, which she called an election law violation, and that the campaign has since been asked to stop.

Delaware Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove confirmed that the office did receive complaints about O'Donnell's "advance teams" at polling places and contacted the campaign about it.

"These groups were cheering ... making noise that was carrying into the 50 (foot) area although the group was not inside the 50 (foot) area physically. Because the noise could be heard inside the area, I called the campaign and asked them to discontinue the practice," Manlove said. "I have had no further complaints, so my assumption is that the campaign has ceased this practice."

Moran did not deny that supporters were rallying for O'Donnell, but called any such activity "organic" and legal.

"It's not illegal. ... It's certainly not intimidating," he said. "They should be ashamed of themselves."

Tea Party-backed O'Donnell is running against Democratic nominee Chris Coons and has been trailing in the polls since she won the nomination in an upset victory over Rep. Mike Castle.

O'Donnell campaign spokesman Doug Sachtleben issued a written statement calling the Democratic claims part of a series of "baseless attacks."

"It's truly a desperate act of a failed party trying to protect their future rubber-stamp for the White House from losing what should have been an easy election for them," he said.

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